Friday 14

Pathways towards a more inclusive Nanotechnology development in Europe – > Findings from NANO2ALL

Posted by Dora Fazecas, NANO2ALL project on 14 Jun 2019

In the past months, the NANO2ALL team has elaborated a roadmap document which conveys findings from the different NANO2ALL activities, principally from its participatory national and European dialogues and its case studies on past and current societal engagement practices in nanotechnology R&I. The roadmap addresses primarily EU and national decision-makers in the science and technology field with competence in the domain of nanotechnology research and innovation (R&I). It outlines the challenges and opportunities for the development of nanotechnology in Europe within the framework of Responsible Research & Innovation (RRI). The roadmap highlights the conditions that have to be in place for enhanced inclusiveness (societal engagement) across the nanotechnology R&I value chains, and outlines recommended actions to help fulfil these conditions. 

You can download the roadmap from here.

 
KEY FINDINGS FROM THE ROADMAP
 
  • There is a deeply-felt need for inclusiveness (societal engagement) and integration of societal perspectives in the nanotechnology R&I ecosystem 
  • Societal engagement approaches implemented over the past 15 – 20 years in Europe have not reached a full array of societal actors from different European contexts and often did not establish continuous interactions or trust-building between societal actors
  • There is a need to extrapolate lessons learned from these initiatives to inform the future inclusive processes in nano- and other emerging technologies 
  • The proven role of independent intermediaries (for instance science centres, professional moderators, science communicators) in the facilitation of interactions on responsible nanotechnology development should be reinforced.
  • The inclusion of societal representatives and their views should be enabled at certain stages of decision-making. 
  • Some expert feedback suggests that interactions should be established for tackling diverse topics and these are not always “nano-specific”. 
  • Several conditions have to be in place simultaneously (presented below), in order to truly enhance societal engagement across nanotechnology R&I value chains. 

CONDITION 1: FRAMEWORKS FOR SYSTEMISED SOCIETAL ENGAGEMENT IN NANOTECHNOLOGY R&I

RECOMMENDED TRAJECTORIES AND ACTIONS
 
Trajectory 01: Evaluate past societal engagement activities in research and innovation in nanotechnology.
  • Commission an evaluation study of SE in nano in the past years
  • Use knowledge from such an evaluation to elaborate a plan for the promotion of SE in nano and in other emerging technologies
Trajectory 02: Adapt existing frameworks (or create new ones where not existing) to increase the involvement of all actors, incl. citizens and their representatives in R&I decision-making at all stages.
  • Mandate and finance selected EU level and national platforms 
  • Adapt current public consultations for setting R&I priorities using challenge-led forms of SE
  • Adapt existing EU, national and regional research and innovation funding programmes to foster societal engagement in actual nanotechnology R&I processes 
  • Set up advisory services to support the implementation of societal engagement in nanotechnology R&I 

CONDITION 2: LIFELONG PARTICIPATORY CULTURE IN SCIENCE AND SOCIETY MATTERS

RECOMMENDED TRAJECTORIES AND ACTIONS

Trajectory 01: Promote capacity-building and reflections on nano- and other new and emerging technologies via the formal education system.
  • Implement funding programmes for open nano collaborative projects bringing schools in contact with universities and other stakeholders 
  • Promote the uptake of nano- and other emerging technology related teaching materials 
  • Provide a fast track framework for interaction between teachers and researchers through existing platforms

Trajectory 02: Promote scientific culture and critical thinking on nano- and other new and emerging technologies among citizens via lifelong learning and science communication.

  • Fund (incl. through a dedicated strand for science and society matters in Horizon Europe) informal lifelong learning programmes & interdisciplinary funding schemes supporting citizen-science projects embedded into a unique standardised procedure 
  • Develop a clear set of criteria (performance indicators and guidelines) on the quality of science communication activities 

CONDITION 3: OPEN RESEARCH AND INNOVATION ECOSYSTEM TOWARDS SOCIETAL PERSPECTIVES

RECOMMENDED TRAJECTORIES AND ACTIONS
 
Trajectory 01: Foster RRI awareness and competence within the nanotechnology R&I community and incentivise the adoption of RRI by relevant institutions at regional, national and EU levels.
  • Develop a long-term plan for the promotion of awareness-raising and capacity building to members of the R&I community with regard to RRI principles and practices (training programmes coupled with structural changes to the education system aligning academic programmes with RRI goals). Innovation ecosystems (EIT, EIC, etc) should act as multipliers to foster engagement and provide evidence of the benefits of RRI.
  • Induce structural and institutional changes within research organisations, including the adaptation of the evaluation frameworks of these entities and researchers to RRI goals.
  • Develop and continuously update EU and national level measures in order to incentivise the implementation of RRI. Build on existing frameworks eg. CSR) and set up reward schemes, RRI check-list, encourage bottom-up and organic RRI practices.


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